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January 09, 2013

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Happiness is inseparable from meaning because every experience has meaning in context, and context is essential for happiness.

cc, I wonder if the reverse is true: can there be meaning without happiness?

Meaning (that word again...), when we feel that some experience has meaning for us, even if the experience is horrible -- like torture or dying a painful death -- there is some sort of accompanying positive feeling that we could call a form of "happy."

Doesn't meaningfulness carry with it a positive sensation? If it didn't, wouldn't the experience be empty of meaning, rather than full of it?

This is why I tend to see meaning and happiness as two sides of the same coin, or the same thing in different guises. Philosophers elevate "meaning" to a higher plane than "happiness." But if meaning is what makes life pleasurable and satisfying, isn't that the same thing as happiness?

"But if meaning is what makes life pleasurable and satisfying, isn't that the same thing as happiness?"

Yes, but when what I have found meaningful fades, happiness is the pursuit of new meaning.

Happiness is climbing the wall of aspiration, inspired by the need for meaning.


I think there is also the power of the mind to transcend its circumstances, to manufacture meaning, where there appears to be none, to look at the positives rather than the negatives. shit happens, but how you view it, or how you bounce back from it or dont, is what counts - as frankl says, the one's that survived, cultivate meaning from meaninglessness.

You cant get much worse than frank's experience one should imagine - caged up, enslaved, with no prospect of release, facing almost certain death and watch your loved one's perish - its pretty remarkable how he didnt simply give up. But I guess it also depends on how deeply he has the capacity for loving those other than himself. The strongest person i ever knew, would never recover from the death of a loved one.

But i suppose Frankl's ability was not so much his inner strength or compassion, tho he might have had these things, but an almost philosophical ability to transcend his circumstances and give meaning to mayhem.

"i suppose Frankl's ability was not so much his inner strength or compassion, tho he might have had these things, but an almost philosophical ability to transcend his circumstances and give meaning to mayhem."

It all comes down to procrastination, doesn't it? If the urge to keep living is strong enough, one will find/fashion reasonable justification for pushing on against all odds.

Call it heroic or call it crazy, for good or for evil, but some people just keep going, and they can't do it without a sense of purpose and meaning, how ever noble or nutty.

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